Happy What I Ate Wednesday! Today I’m bringing you a special edition of WIAW featuring all of our eats from our weekend trip to Chicago. Tom & I made a bucket list a few years ago and “Eating in Chicago” was one of the items on the list. We decided to take advantage of the 3 day weekend and take a trip to the windy city and hunt down some delicious eats. Well, lets just say we didn’t have to hunt too far! This city is FULL of amazing restaurants, casual eateries, shopping, bars, architecture and beautiful scenery. Ok, yes, it was cold. Everyone thought we were crazy for going during the winter but its cold in Boston so why not be cold in Chicago instead? It made it that much better when we got all cozied up inside a nice restaurant.
We landed in Chicago at 7:30 on Saturday morning so we decided not to waste any time and jump into a delicious breakfast. Our first stop was at Wildberry Cafe. WOW! Yum-o-yummo! I had the Napa Valley Fig omelette with california figs, scallions, applewood bacon, aged havarti & olive oil alongside some hash browns. Instead of toast I decided to splurge on a signature Berry Bliss Pancake which were pancakes stuffed with Maine blueberries, layered with wildberry mascarpone and topped with blackberries, strawberries, vanilla cream anglaise & blackberry coulis. I would definitely go back there, it was probably one of the best breakfast places I’ve ever been to.
After breakfast we walked down through Millennium Park and visited Chicago Institute of Art. It was the perfect place to cozy up inside as the snow started to fall.
For lunch we were able to pull together a little impromptu reunion with some great old friends from High School who live in the city. We went to a great restaurant called Quartino. We shared a pizza, some calamari, dates wrapped in bacon & caprese salad.
My favorite meal of the trip was dinner on Saturday night when we visited a restaurant called Balena. It was the type of dinner where you can close your eyes and savor every single bite, all of the flavors were so complex and delicious. We started off with beef tartare and arugula tossed in a black truffle vinaigrette along with burrata that was served with a marinated bean salad and pickled tomato vinaigrette.
The cocktail I had was probably one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. It was a mixture of St. Germain, Russian Standard, Fragoli, Prosecco & Wild Strawberry.
One dish that I forgot to take a photo of was the potato gnocchi with beef heart bolognese and pecorino romano. The dish pictured above was a sausage pizza. Sounds simple enough right? There was nothing simple about it. I really don’t know how to explain it but it was seriously THE. BEST. pizza I’ve ever had. Every single bite was exploding with unexpected flavors. I would travel back to Chicago just to have another bite of that pizza. Oh wow.
We planned to have brunch around 11:30 on Sunday so we decided to stop by The Protein Bar in the morning to pick up a smoothie to hold us over. It was probably the only healthy item I consumed the entire weekend but it was delicious! I’m hoping they open one of these up in Boston, it was fantastic!
To pass some time we stopped by Eataly. We’ve been to the one in New York and this one in Chicago was equally as fabulous. Full of a mouth-watering array of meats, cheeses, breads and imported Italian foods. We heard from a friend that they actually had to shut down for a little while because they were so busy after opening that they couldn’t keep up with the demand. I’m glad it was back open and we were able to check it out, even if it was torture to see all that amazing fresh food and not being able to buy anything to cook at home.
We met a friend at The Purple Pig for brunch on Sunday. He told us to get there at 11 for when they opened at 11:30, we were sure glad that we did because a huge line formed and we were able to get a table right away. We started off with a cheese platter and some duck prociutto. Next we enjoyed some razor clams with lemon, herbs & olive oil. We had to try the famous bone marrow and it didn’t disappoint. My favorite dish I forgot to photograph, it was Pork Neck Bone Gravy with Ricotta.
We did a little bar hopping to watch the game on Sunday. It was sad that the Pats lost but it made it a little better that we got to watch it in some really great local hang outs. One of our favorite bars was a place called Headquarters Beercade. It’s a bar full of free arcade games, great beers and sweet bloody mary garnishes (is that not the most ridiculous garnish you’ve ever seen?)
For dinner we visited the famous Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab. I didn’t take many photos because I was wrapped up in how good everything was so you’ll just have to take my word for it. The service & ambiance was outstanding and all of the food was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. We started off with some rock & stone crab and then we shared some chicken, a bone in filet and some potatoes and grilled tomatoes. We were too stuffed for dessert but they brought us a delicious slice of Key Lime pie on the house. Its things like this that can really make an experience.
After dinner we went to a few bars to watch the Sea Hawks game which was fun. We ended up a late-night bar called Cheesies where they make all different types of grilled cheese sandwiches. It was a really fun place and we saw a Ryan Gosling look-alike. It actually might have been him, I don’t know – it seriously looked EXACTLY like him. Ryan – were you in Chicago this weekend? Eating a grilled cheese sandwich? I know you read my blog. Hello?? Ryan?….
For breakfast on Monday we went to Yolk. It was good but I think Wildberry was much better. We walked around on N. Michigan Ave. to do some shopping until we worked up enough of an appetite to enjoy a Chicago style hot dog at Portillos. I only had a bite of Tom’s since I wasn’t too hungry but it was pretty delicious.
Overall it was a fantastic trip to the windy city, we’ll definitely be making a trip back some day. It’s amazing what you can experience in 3 short days. Thank you to all of our amazing friends who dropped what they were doing and showed us around the city.
If you don’t hear from me for a few days, I’ll be at crossfit and slurping green smoothies…